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11 Customer-Centric Ways to Grow Your Ecommerce Revenue

There are three general ways to grow revenue in any ecommerce business:

  1. Increase the total number of customers.
  2. Increase the average number of times each customer buys from you.
  3. Increase the average order value (AOV) from each customer.

As ecommerce marketers, knowing what to prioritize can be the difference between a standard year of growth and a phenomenal one. So, what should be your next move?

Take another look above at the overall ways to grow revenue and you may notice each has a common thread: the customer. It can be a game-changer if you start with what your buyers want (and perhaps more importantly don’t want) and let them be your guiding light for everything you do in your marketing.

In 2011, Jeff Bezos said, “If you’re truly obsessed about your customers, it will cover a lot of your other mistakes.”

Learn 11 specific ways to implement more customer-centric marketing that can lead to more revenue for your store. These are categorized in ways to grow:

  1. New Customers

  2. Product Feeds

  3. Dynamic Retargeting on Facebook

  4. Content Marketing

  5. Repeat Customers

  6. Psychographic Segmentation

  7. Automated Email

  8. Targeted Promo Emails

  9. Conversion Rate

  10. Customized Checkout

  11. Chatbot Conversion Optimization

  12. Non-Boring Product Descriptions

  13. Authentic Reviews

  14. Amazing Customer Service

New Customers

1. Product Feeds

Selling on Google Shopping is a great way to market your products in a customer-centric way. Product images, pricing, reviews and brand name are all displayed in Google so that shoppers no longer need to click through to see all of that critical information.

Image Source

It works a lot like traditional Google pay-per-click campaigns. It’s set up by connecting your store’s product feed to Google Merchant Center, which then feeds into your AdWords account. Once you successfully start displaying Product Listing Ads, it is easy to begin grouping your store’s products into ad groups in AdWords.

shoes results google shoppingImage Source

Note: Typically once you have 150 or more store reviews within the last 12 months, review star ratings will display in Google Shopping.

Saving your customers time is unlikely to go out of style any time soon. Nobody ever said, “I want a great deal, but I’d first like to blindly visit 10 different stores.” By marketing on Google Shopping, you provide your future customers with a better experience.

Additionally, it is easy to connect your store’s product catalog to Facebook’s Business Manager. Uploading your product feed to advertise in a customer-centric way on Facebook (displaying product images, descriptions, price and other information) works especially well for the next section.

2. Dynamic Retargeting on Facebook

Research from 2017 shows the global conversion rate from a visitor, to add to cart is just under 3%.

us and uk conversion rates

Not everyone who adds products to their cart will complete the purchase. So for the more than 97% of people who didn’t purchase, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for them to return and buy.

Dynamic retargeting with Facebook works well for this because it combines an image of the exact product your visitor added to cart/viewed, with info-like descriptions, pricing of that particular product and the custom copy you add. Beautiful! Your shopper only sees exactly what they were interested in plus any sort of offer text.

Facebook shopping ads

Setup for Facebook dynamic retargeting is pretty easy. First, create a product catalog in FB by hooking up your product feed. Next you’ll need to add a few events found in the Ads Manager for your store to successfully pass the product information to Facebook that corresponds with each user, which may require some dev work depending on how savvy you are with your code. Once you’ve got the events firing properly, the last step is to set up your first dynamic retargeting campaign and ad. In no time, you’ll be remarketing in a customer-centric way to your visitors who have yet to convert.

3. Content Marketing

Now that we’ve covered a couple of buyer-focused ways to advertise, it is important to note the vast majority of shoppers looking for products on Google and other search engines will bypass paid listings altogether. According to the Similar Web Search Report, it’s not even close when you examine paid vs. organic (on desktop only). The non-paid search results get 18 times more traffic.

organic search 18 times more than paid

People trust Google and other search engines to rank the best natural results, so give search engines reasons why you deserve to outrank your competition. Several factors go into SEO for ecommerce, but content marketing is arguably the most customer-centric way to improve search engine rankings.

Helping the customer is the name of the game with content. All things being equal, whoever helps users in the most valuable way, ranks the highest.

For example, campers search the phrase “how to build a campfire,” or something similar, every month. A big reason why REI ranks #1 in Google for the term is because they answered the question in the most helpful and thorough way.

rei campfire article

This well-written article dominates the competition. It has over a thousand words describing every step of the campfire building process. It’s also supported by several great images and a video. REI has created an entire ‘Expert Advice’ section of the site dedicated to answering questions and solving problems pertaining to anything they sell.

Are there common problems and questions your potential buyers have? Listen to what your customer base says and use AnswerThePublic.com to find out other ideas to help. Search Google to find out what questions pertaining to your industry could be answered in a much better way than they currently are. To give your store a good shot at outranking the “partial helpers,” you want your content to be 10 or more times better than the best results for the topic.

Repeat Customers

4. Psychographic Segmentation

Demographic information of your buyers, like age or gender, can be useful in many cases. Knowing where they live and tracking their behavior is important as well. But these will only tell you part of what you need to know. Psychographics, however, include the goals, emotions, values, hobbies and habits that help drive purchase decisions, which helps us understand our customer’s why.

market segmentation factorsImage Source

Psychographic segmentation is crucial for marketing in a customer-centric way. If we better understand the “why” of a particular buyer segment, the likelihood of positively influencing a group’s reason to buy goes way up! Learn as much as you can in order to deliver more details and serve customers even better.

5. Automated Email

Automation is an excellent way to keep your team or business lean, but still provide a personalized experience for your customers based on their actions.

This example from the marketing automation campaign builder inside Infusionsoft shows how an Ecommerce business can treat customers differently each time they buy from the company.

marketing automation map

In this example, each sequence pushes the customer toward making another purchase. Inside the “new customer welcome, shipped” sequence (pictured below), a series of emails thanks the customer for “joining the family” and offers them a coupon code as gratitude:

drip campaign message thread

In addition to incentivizing repeat purchases, these emails can be created in plaintext, meaning it looks to the end customer like a customer service rep sat down and wrote them a personal email. This can have a huge impact on the user experience of your site, and turn people into raving fans of your brand.

6. Targeted Promo Emails

Email is an effective (and cheap!) way to market to your existing customer base. So how do you stand out in your buyer’s inbox amidst the swarm of the rest of the world’s offers?

Focus on customer experience. A big reason why Chewy.com does well with promotional emails is because they’re laser-focused. For example, cat owners only see offers for cat products.

chewy triggered email message

You won’t see any dog food offers unless you make a dog food purchase. Better yet, these cat product offers are based on prior purchase behavior. So the brands and types are all familiar.

Quickly blasting your email list with offers may generate an uptick in conversions. However, if your product set is diverse, it will likely be worthwhile to spend the extra time to deliver deals that line up with exactly what matches your customer’s interest.

Conversion Rate

7. Customized Checkout

Nobody ever said, “I just wish this checkout took a little longer.” Easy and as quick as possible, especially in the world of online shopping, will never go out of style.

Standard checkout layouts created by the top ecommerce platforms have improved over the years, but the conversion rates you can expect from them are…. well, standard. Below is an example of a default checkout page layout with BigCommerce:

checkout example flowImage Source

Basic stuff. The good news is this page can be modified to be a lot more customer-focused with some dev work.

After studying videos of real-life customers using the default checkout, the Ecommerce Crew put together an eight-step checkout page customization checklist, which soon yielded the following customized layout:

single page checkoutImage Source

The results were immediate. Modifying the page to make the process smoother, less time consuming and more trustworthy for users translated into a 30% lift in conversion rate.

8. Chatbot Conversion Optimization

One huge way to increase your conversion rate is to add a chat function to your store’s website. This gives users a way to interact with you and ask questions about what they need. In turn, it gives you an opportunity to drive them exactly where you want them to go.

Don’t have the time or the staff to sit around manning your website’s chat feature? Automate it with a chatbot. Here’s an example:

chatbot setup

Based on common customer inquiries, you can build different conversation paths for people to self-select their way through. Each ends at the critical stage of collecting the lead without the use of standard forms.

This will not only dramatically increase the conversion rate of the visitors to your site, but it has the added benefit of answering frequently asked questions for your customers, meaning you can outsource at least some of your customer service, while being more helpful to visitors than your competitors who don’t have this capability.

9. Non-Boring Product Descriptions

Product copy, when done well, is proven to sell. But what if your competitors also provide users with robust product descriptions featuring a comprehensive list of features and benefits in an easy-to-read format?

So Worth Living changes the game to stand out by injecting personality into their product descriptions that they know their buyers will enjoy and appreciate:

good product copy

Being helpful doesn’t mean being boring. Get to know your buyers better than your competition. Find ways to entertain them in product descriptions, while informing them about all the features and benefits.

10. Authentic Reviews

Back in the early days of Amazon, when the ecommerce mammoth was a book store only, the company’s employees were writing the majority of the reviews. Jeff Bezos had instructed his team to leave 100% genuine reviews. Naturally, their honesty translated into negative ratings on some books.

good amazon review of bookImage Source

Publishers got ticked off with what Amazon was doing and one told Bezos his job was to “sell books, not trash them.” Bezos didn’t waver.

How did he know Amazon was doing the right thing? Authentic reviews can seem counter-intuitive when they are bad. But they’re truly in the best interest of the customer, and therefore the right move. Helping your visitors make the right buying decisions with reviews (good, bad and ugly) puts your customer’s interests first and foremost.

11. Amazing Customer Service

Customer service is perhaps the lowest of the low-hanging fruit. In today’s world, treating people like they’re real human beings, and showing them empathy, has the power to make you stand out from the crowd in a big way.

A strategy we use frequently is every time someone has a bad experience, we give them a $5 gift card. This does more than reduce people’s angst. It turns a negative experience into an overwhelmingly positive one. Sure, this may slightly reduce the margin you make on their next purchase. But if it brings someone back a second, third, or fourth time, it’s worth the $5 all day long. Here’s a real response from June 20th as an example:

coupon code turns happy customer

Treat your customers well, and they will reciprocate.

Conclusion

Successful ecommerce marketing takes into account several factors to grow significantly. Use the customer as your north star and test, test, test to find out what works best for you.

What customer-centric ways are you using to grow your store’s revenue in 2017? Comment below and let me know.

About the Author: Ethan DeYoung is the co-founder of Wild West Pool Supplies, a company that aims to help people enjoy more time in their pool or spa. Connect with him on LinkedIn.


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3 Ways the ‘Cruise Ship’ Model Invites Your Audience Aboard

"We didn't feel like customers. We felt like family." – Will DeWitt

Recently, my wife and I went on our first cruise.

Even though we didn’t have an inkling of what to expect, we now have what we’re calling “Cruise Fever.” We plan on being repeat customers for the same cruise line — and wouldn’t even consider another.

Why?

It’s all due to the completely satisfying experience we had from the moment we stepped foot on the ship to our final moment aboard. The cruise line earned our loyalty by instantly pulling us in and retaining our attention in unique and entrancing ways.

Here’s how you can use the “cruise ship” model to help build your own loyal audience.

1. Provide top-notch customer service

When we arrived on board, we had so many questions.

  • Where is our room?
  • When do we eat, and what meals are included?
  • Where is the pool?
  • What should we do if there is some sort of emergency?

The cruise line understood that most people were going to have those questions, and they used that foresight to create an easy-to-read, but comprehensive, information packet.

But that was just the first day.

For the remainder of our trip, the cruise line continued its excellent customer service with friendly faces and warm smiles. They made us feel at home for the duration of our time with them.

We didn’t feel like customers. We felt like family.

If we ever needed something, we felt more than welcome to ask for it. Whether we were poolside, in our stateroom, or at the bar, the staff was polite and professional … without feeling “corporate.”

You should also anticipate the questions your audience and customers are going to have. By doing so, you can address them from the get-go and reduce any uncertainty first-time visitors to your site may have … which ultimately leads to more sales.

To implement this approach on your website, you could:

2. Offer a variety of content

From the moment we woke up to the time we went to bed, there was never a dull moment.

In fact, there were so many things to do, it was impossible to actually do them all in a single day. So, we had to pick and choose which activities were right for us.

Did I really want to sit around and play bingo? No, I would have felt a little bit out of place in that room.

Learn how to salsa dance? Ehh … I’m kind of clumsy with my feet, and I didn’t want to embarrass my wife like that.

Go watch some bigger-bodied men partake in a belly flop competition? Now we’re talking!

The point is, what appeals to some may not appeal to others.

To reach the highest number of potential customers, it’s wise to have a wide variety of content available on your site.

Mix things up a bit. Instead of just having a blog, consider adding other forms of content to your site like a:

Don’t give your prospects a dull moment that prompts them to look for someone or something else. Make it easy and fun to keep consuming your content.

3. Keep your guests full to the gills

It’s rare to find yourself hungry while on a cruise. There’s a buffet for both breakfast and lunch, and a nightly three-course dinner.

But it’s not just the quantity of the food; it’s also the quality, and trust me: this was top-notch cuisine.

You better believe that if the cruise line only had fast-food, we wouldn’t have been excited for each and every meal. Instead, due to the high quality, we found ourselves daydreaming from time to time about our next meal.

That can be the experience your audience has when you consistently create excellent content. They gorge on what’s in front of them and — as soon as their plate is clean — impatiently await more.

When you publish exemplary content that has your audience eagerly awaiting your next piece, you become their only reasonable choice.

Land ho!

The cruise line now has two recurring customers because of their excellent service, abundance of activities, and delicious meals.

By applying these lessons I learned while on vacation, you can create unforgettable experiences for your audience.

Now go … set sail and stand out from the competition.

The post 3 Ways the ‘Cruise Ship’ Model Invites Your Audience Aboard appeared first on Copyblogger.


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How much does SEO cost?

How much should you be paying for search engine optimization (SEO)? Columnist Marcus Miller breaks down what factors go into SEO pricing.

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How to Use the New Lifetime Value Feature in Google Analytics

You’re drowning in data.

You’ve got enough KPIs to track and report on already.

Why would you possibly need another one? What good would come of adding yet another hour to the end of you’re already long work day in order to dig it up?

The truth, in this case, is that you can’t afford not to.

Lifetime Value isn’t just another vanity metric. It’s THE metric. The one that stands head and shoulders above all others.

IF there was one and only one metric you were tracking, this should be it.

And now you can do it simply and easily inside Google Analytics. Here’s how.

What is Lifetime Value (And Why Does it Matter?)

Metrics often lead you astray.

Take Cost Per Click.

They range wildly from industry to industry. $2 bucks in one industry, but $50 bucks in another.

Crazy, right? Surely that $50 is just “too expensive.”

Not necessarily, obviously.

The first easy answer is your break-even point. If your Cost Per Acquisition is less than your initial average order value, you’re golden.

But sometimes, in some cases, you actually want to willingly lose money initially.

amazon revenue net income overtimeImage Source

Ever heard of Netflix? How about Amazon?

Amazon routinely enters a new market with razor thin (or even negative) profit margins so they can grab market share. Only to then turn the dial back once they’ve gained a market leadership position.

amazon revenue from retail and web servicesImage Source

So what’s a reasonable Cost Per Click in that scenario? Now it depends.

This can even change from company to company within a vertical (and their appetite for risk).

Let’s talk insurance.

Two ways to make money:

  1. Upfront commission when you close a sale
  2. Ongoing residual payments over the life of each deal.

So you’ve got a new company. Entering a new market and trying to expand.

Would you willingly, purposefully sacrifice #1 in order to scale #2?

Of course you would.

Why? Because the lifetime value of a customer.

The full potential value of each new client you add will eclipse the initial commision. So as long as you can stomach the negative cash flow for a bit, you’d probably be willing to drive that Cost Per Click as high as humanely possible.

You go all in, when the stakes are right, and drive everyone else out.

All of this sounds perfect, except for one teeny, tiny detail.

Does your company track lifetime value? ‘Cause most don’t.

I’ve personally worked with dozens (hundreds?) of clients over the past few years and I can count on one hand the number who were actually tracking conversions properly. Let alone seeing anything past the first purchase.

One of the reasons is because tracking this info, with current systems, isn’t always easy. It might be easy if you’re using a Shopify and do all sales in a single channel or two. That way, everything happens inside one platform.

But usually your business is spread out. Each department has their own independent systems. So it’s tough to bring everything together.

Thankfully, Google Analytics has been hard at work recently.

Their new Lifetime Value report helps business owners acquire data to understand how valuable certain users/customers are to their business based on their lifetime performance.

And best of all, it pulls together lifetime values for people acquired through different channels and mediums, like social, email, and paid search. You’ll also be able to view data by engagement (pageviews, goals, events) and then trends (like 90 days after customer acquisition).

Using this will help you determine which sources are driving the most valuable traffic and which corresponding marketing investments are truly delivering an ROI.

Here’s how to run a lifetime value report inside Google Analytics.

How to Run a Lifetime Value Report

Start by signing into your Google Analytics account and then follow these simple steps:

    Step 1: Click on Reports Section
    Step 2: Click on Audience
    Step 3: Click on Lifetime Value

find lifetime value in google analytics

Note: The Lifetime Value feature should already be available inside your GA account (no need to change your code!).

Now let’s get started generating a report. Here’s how to setup your graph first:

setting up lifetime value in google analytics

Start by setting your acquisition date range (the option on the far right). Any customer acquired during this date range (May 2017 on this example) will be included in the LTV report.

Let’s say you ran a promotional campaign or online sale during the month of May, you can easily analyze the data for these customers and segment by date based on your campaigns.

For steps two and three, you can select the following list of metrics to compare:

lifetime value metrics comparison

Now let’s break this graph down a bit to help you understand what the heck is going on:

lifetime value google analytics

Essentially, this graph is showing site users acquired during the month of May, and how their lifetime value changes based on the page views and session duration metrics over a 90-day period on the site.

These are obviously engagement metrics, you can customize this even further to track the exact amount spent if you have eCommerce tracking enabled.

Now, let’s jump to the table below:

acquisition channel google analytics

Now we’re able to compare the number of acquired users (and the Pageviews per User) in this case by acquisition channel.

Click on the dropdown above the table to pull up different granular sorting options like Source, Medium, or Campaign.

acquisition channels in google analytics lifetime value

How is this helpful? Check it out:

google analytics channels attribution

Let me break it down:

  • Blue: Acquisition channel. This shows what channel the users were acquired through, i.e, direct, organic, social, referral.
  • Pink: Users. The amount of users in the specified acquisition date range (May 2017 in this example)
  • Purple: Your selected lifetime value metric. In this example, pageviews per user is the LTV. This column is where the data begins to get interesting.

Let’s zoom in on the last column in detail to see if there’s any insight we can already glean from these reports.

pageviews lifetime value

Now we start to notice patterns among the different channels. For example, Referral traffic has double the pageviews per user (LTV) than almost every other channel. While Organic pageviews per user (LTV) is beginning to fall behind.

Want to pull back the curtain even more? Like being able to see things what individual Referral sites are driving higher LTV’s?

Head back over to the “Acquisition Source” on your table. Now we can break down which individual websites are sending us the most valuable traffic (based on LTV). And the winner is…

lifetime value acquisition source example

Kissmetrics! What, what! 🙌

Here’s why this new insight important.

Data Lies. LTV Forces it to Tell the Truth

Data lies to you daily.

For example, pull up your Goals inside Google Analytics to conduct a similar analysis to the one we just did.

You can even view the Reverse Funnel Path to see which pages, posts, or campaigns delivered the most conversions. This report is helpful… to a point. If you understand its limitations.

For example:

Problem #1. These could be subscribers or leads. Not solid purchases. So you’re basing hard decisions off of ‘top of funnel’ data.

One campaign or channel might send 100 subscribers while the other only sends 20. But none of this takes into account how many of those people are converting. Or even how much money each is spending.

Problem #2. Oh, these are sales, you say? Ok.

Except for one thing: You can’t tell if they’re one-off or repeat. So you can’t tell if each customer is a $100 order or a $1,000 one.

Which is kinda important when you’re looking backwards to see how that content investment performed vs. the paid campaign.

Problem #3. A/B tests lie, too.

Things start off great. That new button resulted in a big conversion rate leap.

The only problem is that these small, temporary fluctuates often regress back to the mean. Larry Kim likened it to “moving desk chairs around the Titanic.”

ab testing reverts to meanImage Source

There might only be a literal surface level change, without ever fundamentally improving the organization as a whole.

When does this commonly happen? When you over-optimize.

Problem #4. Over-optimization.

A/B tests that increase top line metrics often backfire.

For example, another study from Larry Kim showed that for every increase you made in a conversion rate, the lower your rate of Marketing Qualified Leads.

landing page vs mqlsImage Source

In other words, the more aggressive you at are collecting that initial opt-in or lead can often lower the overall quality of the leads that are getting in. Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the grand scheme of things when you think about it.

The point is that there are many, many ways data often lies to us. We think we’re seeing the whole picture, when in reality, it’s only a tiny slice of it.

Conclusion

Metrics aren’t always they appear. And data often lies.

What’s an “expensive” Cost Per Click for one business, isn’t for another. And sometimes that overall conversion rate we’re looking at to base our decisions around is fraught with peril in reality.

The one savior is Lifetime Value.

It gives us a broader, big picture context when viewing other bits of information. It helps us put things into proper context.

So we can not only make better decisions to drive additional revenue. But also realize when we’re about to make a few costly mistakes.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.


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